Researcher Conwell stood over the restraint table. SCP-1360 stared back. Its white plastic eyes seemed emotionless as it followed Conwell’s every move. Four security officers stood nearby, each awaiting for the incapacitated automaton to attempt to escape. Conwell gave a quick nod. He pressed record on a small tape recorder on the surgical table at his side.
“Jacob Conwell, July 8th, 2013. Regular scheduled removal of SCP-1360-1. Samples are to be removed from SCP-1360’s lower torso, left forearm and right thigh. Subject is fully cooperative prior to 1360-1 removal. Recommended security team is present and on standby.”
Conwell then grabbed a small scalpel and approached the droid. The blade shook slightly in his hand. He wished he could look away. This was the part that he hated the most. Conwell let out a sharp breath. He began to cut, but stopped when one of the security officers placed a hand on his shoulder.
“There’s something poking out of its left middle finger,” he whispered into Conwell’s ear.
Conwell’s head snapped to the side. Sure enough, a small slip of paper was visible poking out from underneath the cap that served as 1360’s fingertip. Conwell gave a small nod to the officer. He gently placed the scalpel back on the table.
“Be ready to restrain it,” Conwell whispered. He then slowly made his way to the droid’s hand, and grabbed its middle finger. SCP-1360 immediately started to struggle against its restraints. Maxwell, Forrest, Harrison and Lee quickly got to work holding the droid down. This only made its struggle for freedom increasingly more desperate.
“Got it!” Conwell shouted. He pulled several folded pieces of notebook paper from the automaton’s finger. The droid was now putting all its strength into trying to break free. Its motions escalated to violent thrashing. 1360’s eyes remained locked on him as he quickly grabbed the tape recorder and fled towards the door. “Keep it restrained until it calms down! Make sure to confiscate its notebook and pens before you leave!”
The four guards grunted in compliance. Every ounce of their concentration was devoted to keeping the droid from breaking free. Conwell looked back as he stepped into the hallway. The droid’s constant gaze only subsided once the containment door slid shut.
Conwell let out a heavy sigh as he stared at the numerous pieces of notebook paper lying on the desk in front of him. Each one was crinkled and heavily worn, appearing to have been folded and unfolded several times. SCP-1360 had put up an immense struggle to try and keep Conwell from taking them, but now that he was able to see what all the fuss was about, he could not help but feel underwhelmed. On each of the pieces of paper was a small sketch.
The first depicted an incredibly detailed representation of 1360 running. Even the mesh pattern of the droid’s fabric skin was visible. On 1360’s shoulder was a young girl in a summer dress with a flower design. Her long hair was drawn fluttering behind her as 1360 ran, her arms stretched upwards toward the sky. However, her face was left completely blank. No nose, no eyes or mouth. Just blank paper.
A second drawing showed 1360 shaking hands with a man in a suit. The man had short hair and appeared to stand half a foot taller than 1360 itself. The detail that was placed into drawing the creases and pleats of the suit was exquisite, but once again, the man’s face was blank.
The third drawing had 1360 walking with the little girl through what appeared to be a park of sorts. Conwell was once again amazed with the detail that had been placed in the drawing, as the trees in the background appeared almost lifelike. The little girl seemed to skip along as it held 1360’s hand. Both were adorned in party hats. However, yet again the girl’s face was left blank.
The final drawing was of 1360 wielding a pistol, side by side with what appeared to be two other men adorned dress shirts and ties covered by bullet proof vests, one brandishing a shotgun while the other carried a machine gun. The detail that was put into the their clothes, the components of the guns they carried, and their stances made the fact that their two faces were left completely blank all the more jarring.
Conwell placed his head in his hands as he sighed, sliding away from his desk to spin in his swivel chair. He continued to sit in silence for a few more moments, stopping only when he heard a knock at his office door.
“It’s open,” he shouted, sliding back to his desk so as to better welcome his guest. He smiled to see that it was none other than Dr. Gregg Collins.
“How am I doing?” Collins asked. A goofy grin was on his face as he then sat down in a chair on the other side of the desk. Conwell gave a small chuckle, shaking his head before he watched Collins look around the sparsely furnished office. “I see you made yourself right at home.”
“It will be a few more years before I have an office that is comparable to Dr. Johnson’s, but I’m doing my best,” Conwell replied. “What brings you here?”
“I promised Zachary that I’d stop by every now and then to tell you that you’re doing a good job,” Collins joked, “I also heard that the droid gave you a bit of excitement today. If I understand correctly, this is the first time it has acted up in several years.”
“It is.” Conwell slid the sketches across the desk. Collins proceeded to delicately look them over. “1360 was hiding these in one of its finger compartments. It tried to stop us when we were retrieving them. ”
Conwell sunk down in his chair. Collins whistled before looking up from the drawings and scratching his head.
“These are really nice. Former owners?” he asked.
“That’s what I thought too. The higher ups want me to press 1360 to see if maybe we could get some actual identities for these people. Though, I’m sure if I did that 1360’s going to be as tight lipped as all the other times we’ve tried to interview it.” Conwell sighed, sinking further into his chair. “If 1360 was a human I’d have requested to have Clayton add its name to one of those filing cabinets of his for a few days, see where that would lead me, and be done with this. That won’t work on an automaton though. We’ll just end up going through the motions again and wind up returning to the usual 1360-1 harvesting schedule with nothing to show for it.”
Conwell shuddered. The droid’s fabric skin, SCP-1360-1, was a self-repairing aramid fiber that was stronger and lighter than Kevlar. These traits made it valuable to the Foundation, which was unfortunate as the fabric disintegrated when it was removed from the droid for too long. This made periodic harvesting a requirement if experimentation in how to stabilize and synthesize the fiber was to be even remotely possible.
“It really gets to you, doesn’t it?” Collins asked.
“It does.” Conwell replied. “I hate 1360-1 collection. The droid claims it can feel pain, and never is that more readily apparent than when I practically skin it alive every two weeks. If the damn thing would just tell us where to find Anderson, or at least its past owners, maybe we could move on. Unfortunately 1360 is just not a talker, at least not anymore.”
“I’ve been in your situation many times before,” Collins said with a nod. “It’s not pleasant. Nothing we do is. However, think of the good that will come of you finding out how to synthesize 1360-1. The sooner we do that the sooner we can stop carving the poor droid up. Hell, the sooner we find Anderson, the sooner we can stop carving the droid up.”
Collins had gotten out of his chair and now rested a hand on Conwell’s shoulder.
“No one is asking you to enjoy the work, but keep in mind why you do it,” he continued. “Keep in mind why the Foundation does what it does in the first place.”
Conwell looked down at his desk. He gave a heavy sigh and nodded his acknowledgement. Collins smiled in return and began to make his way towards the door.
“Let me know how it goes,” he said as he stepped out of the office.
“Alright 1360,” Conwell said as he sat down across from the table from the droid. “After talking with my superiors I’ve been ordered to return your sketches, notebook and pen to you if you cooperate with me during this interview. For all purposes, cooperation will require that you answer all of my questions. What do you say?”
SCP-1360 looked down at the table. Conwell had placed a small notepad and pen in front of him. The same four security officers stood nearby, all waiting for the droid to make a move. The room remained silent for a few moments, but eventually 1360 picked up the pen and began to write.
“Excellent,” Conwell smiled. He then proceeded to place 1360’s drawings on the table in front of it, just far enough out of reach that they couldn’t be grabbed should the droid be so inclined as to destroy them. “First things first, I’ll need you to confirm a few theories I have about your drawings. They are depictions of you with your previous owners, James and his daughter, are they not?”
“I thought so. This brings me to my next question, why were you so desperate to get them back when we discovered them? Why put up such a fight?”
I didn’t think you’d return them.
“Even if we didn’t, couldn’t you have just waited until we gave you your pen and paper back and drawn them again?”
I didn’t know if I would have that kind of time.
“What do you mean?”
SCP-1360 paused for several moments. It looked down at the notepad, and then over at its drawings several times before it once again began to write.
Anderson can remotely erase my client memory. I don’t know why it has not been erased yet. I wanted those drawings so that I might have something to maybe look back on and remember them by. I didn’t know if I would have the time to wait until I could draw them again.
“I see.” Conwell took a few moments to look over the sketches again. “If that’s the case, why leave the faces blank? Your drawings are so detailed, yet you leave out one of the most important parts of human expression?”
Anderson’s programming prevents me from using any more detail. That is the best I can do. It might still be too much.
Conwell sighed. It appeared as if obtaining James’s identity, and new lead for finding Anderson, was not going to happen. Anderson’s foresight was victorious again. Conwell then got up from his chair and slid the drawings the rest of the way towards 1360. The droid looked at him, unmoving as if awaiting a trap.
“That’s all we needed 1360. Feel free to take your sketches back. I’ll have your notebook and pens returned to you in a little bit,” Conwell said as he began to collect his paperwork. He watched with a small smile as the droid then gingerly folded the sketches and returned them to the storage compartment in its left middle finger. Conwell silently watched as the droid was escorted out of the room. The interview had proven to be a dead end, but at least now SCP-1360 was talking again.
Several weeks after the interview, Researcher Conwell was once again scheduled to harvest SCP-1360-1. Following the usual procedure, he and four security officers rolled a restraint table into 1360’s containment cell. The security officer immediately got to work preparing to transfer the droid from his normal restraints in the cell corner to the table when they noticed the droid was holding up its notebook. A single message was neatly written across the page.
May I ask you a question?
Conwell held up his hand for the security officers to cease.
“You may,” he replied. 1360 than quickly wrote another message, handing the notebook off to Conwell when it had finished.
Can you tell me anything about these people I drew?
Conwell looked over at the droid. It was holding up its sketches.
“1360… I…” Conwell began. He was at a loss for words. “You don’t know anything about them?”
The droid shook its head in response. It then held up a third sheet of paper, this one with a note written on it.
Client Memory Deleted.
We’re sorry #31, but as you know our client’s privacy is our highest priority. Things were getting just a little too close for comfort.
Conwell looked at the note for a long time and then back at the droids eyes. If the droid could express emotion he wondered which one it would use right now.
“I’m so sorry 1360. I wish I could tell you who they were. I wish I knew about them too.”
The droid hung its head and remained motionless. Conwell did the same. After a few moments one of the security officers tapped him on his shoulder. Conwell slowly nodded to the security personnel. The four men then set to work preparing the droid for collection of SCP-1360-1.